PMW-F5 and F55 Firmware V1.2 Now Available. Anamorphic, WiFi, Cam and Reel ID and HDCAM SR.

This is a major firmware update for the PMW-F5 and F55 cameras as well as the R5 raw recorder. It adds lots of new and exciting features including 1.3x Anamorphic de-squeeze, the HDCAM SR SStP codec, true 24p, camera and reel ID numbers. For me the most exciting inclusion is WiFi remote control of the camera. Follow the link below to go and grab your update but please please follow the instal instructions very carefully. It is essential that the R5 is updated first and this should be updated to V1.2 first, then the latest release which is V1.21

http://community.sony.com/t5/F5-F55/NEW-firmware-update-v1-2-Major-release/m-p/153943#U153943

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Shooting Time Lapse using S&Q Motion on the PMW-F5, F55, NEX-FS100 and FS700.

A useful feature in many cameras is the ability to shoot time-lapse sequences without any additional equipment. Sony’s EX cameras and many of the newer shoulder mount broadcast cameras have the ability to do this using the “Interval Record” function. However the F5, F55, FS100 and FS700 don’t have this feature and at first glance it appears there is no way to shoot Time Lapse. However all is not lost as these cameras have a function called S&Q Motion. S&Q stands for Slow & Quick, so as the name implies it gives you the ability to shoot both slowly and quickly. In fact you can shoot at different frame rates between 1 frame per second and 60 frames per second. Shooting at 60fps results in slow motion when the clip plays back at the cameras base rate (normally 24p or 30p). Shooting a 1fps results in a significant speed up of between 24 and 30x depending on your playback rate. In this article I’m going to use the NTSC area rates of 24(23.98), 30(29.97) and 60(59.94)fps, but the PAL area rates of 25 and 50fps can also be used.

So you can shoot at 1fps using S&Q, this is the same as using interval record to shoot 1 frame every second… well almost, there are some subtle differences. With interval record your 1 frame is a single frame lasting 1/24th or 1/30th of a second with a pause before the next frame is taken. With S&Q, 1fps means 1 frame PER second, so that frame (and exposure) may actually last for up to a whole second depending on how your shutter is set.

If your using a shutter speed set in fractions of a second, say 1/60 then that is how long your exposure will be, 1/60th of a second, not all that dissimilar to using interval record, a 1/60th of a second exposure followed by a gap 0f 59/60ths before the next exposure. However, if your shutter is set using degrees and is set to 180 degrees then your shutter would be open for half of that 1 second frame rate or half of a second. Then there would be a half second gap before the next frame is taken. Using a 360 degree shutter or with the shutter OFF you can get a full 1 second exposure with no gap between each exposure.

There are Pro’s and Con’s to this. This might be useful for adding motion blur to whatever your shooting, say cars at night where you want those nice long trails of light from the head and tail lights. But for a daylight shot trying to get a sensible exposure with a one second shutter is very difficult and will require a lot of ND filtering. The good news of course is that by playing with the shutter speed, either in fractions of a second or degrees we can achieve different effects. 1/1000 will give very sharp staccato action, 180 or 360 degrees will give blurry dream like motion. Generally degrees will work best for longer exposures and fractions for more normal exposure duration’s. If you are unsure it’s probably better to just stick with 1/30th or 1/60th. I like the little bit of extra blur that 1/30th gives.

But what if a one second interval is shorter than you would ideally like? Well you can always speed up the clip further in the edit suite. Speeding up a 1fps S&Q clip by 200% results in the direct equivalent of a 2 second interval, 400% = 4 seconds, 800% = 8 seconds and so on. If your using a PMW-F5 or F55 a single 64GB SxS card will allow you to shoot 1fps HD for around 30 hours, plenty long enough for most time-laspe applications. The FS100 and FS700 will go for even longer, several days with a 64GB card.

For very long time-lapse sequences I think you are probably better off using a DSLR. DSLR’s will give a larger frame size giving you more pan and scan capability in post production. You can put them on small motion control heads or tracks more easily. But the S&Q function gives you a very nice way to do simple time-lapse sequences with these cameras.

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Shimming Nikon to Canon Lens Adapters. Helps get your zooms to track focus.

I use a lot of different lenses on my large sensor video cameras. Over the years I’ve collected quite a collection of Nikon and Canon mount lenses. I like Nikon mount lenses because they still have an iris that can be controlled manually. I don’t like Nikon lenses because most of them focus back-to-front compared to broadcast, PL and Canon lenses. The exception to this is Sigma lenses. The vast majority of Sigma lenses with Nikon mounts focus the right way – anti clockwise for infinity. If you go back just a few years you’ll find a lot of Sigma, Nikon mount lenses that focus the right way and have a manual iris ring. These are a good choice for use on video cameras. You don’t need any fancy adapters with electronics or extra mechanical devices to use these lenses and you know exactly what your aperture is.

But…. Canon lenses have some advantages too. First is the massive range of lenses out there. Then there is the ability to have working optical image stabilisation if you have an electronic mount and the possibility to remotely control the iris and focus. The down side is you need some kind of electronic mount adapter to make most of them work. But as I do own a couple of Canon DSLR’s it is useful to have a few Canon lenses.

So for my F3, initially I used Nikon lenses. Then along came the FS100 and FS700 cameras plus the Metabones adapter for Canon, so I got some Canon lenses. Then came the MTF Effect control box for Canon lenses on the F5 and now I have my micro Canon controller with integrated speed booster for the F5 and F55. This all came to a head when on an overseas shoot I got out one of my favourite lenses to put on my F5, but, the lens was a Nikon lens and I only had my Canon mounts (shame on me for not taking both mounts). Continually swapping mounts is a pain. So I decided to permanently fit all of my Nikon lenses with Nikon to Canon adapters and then only use Canon mounts on the cameras. You can even get Nikon to Canon adapters that will control the manual iris pin on a lens with no iris ring.

Now a problem with a lot of these adapters is that they are a little bit too thin. This is done to guarantee that the lens will reach infinity focus. If the adapter is too thick you won’t be able to focus on distant objects. This means that the focus marks on the lens and the distances your focussing at don’t line up. Typically you’ll be focussed on something 3m/9ft away but the lens markings will be at 1m/3ft. It can mean that the lens won’t focus on close objects when really it should. If your using a zoom lens this will also mean that as you zoom in and out you will see much bigger focus swings than you should. When the lens flange back (distance from the back of the lens to the sensor) is correctly set any focus shifts will be minimised. If the flange back distance is wrong then the focus shifts can be huge.

Remove the 4 small screws as arrowed.

Remove the 4 small screws as arrowed.

So what’s the answer? Well it’s actually quite simple and easy. All you need to do is to split the front and rear halves of the adapter and insert a thin shim or spacer. Most of the lower cost adapters are made from two parts. Removing 4 small screws allows you to separate the two halves. Make sure you don’t loose the little locking tab and it’s tiny spring!

 

 

The adapter split in two. The shim needs to fit just inside the lip arrowed.

The adapter split in two. The shim needs to fit just inside the lip arrowed.

Split the two halves apart. Then use the smaller inner part as a template for a thin card spacer that will go in between the two parts when you put the adapter back together. The thickness of the card you need will depend on the specific adapter you have, but in general I have found card that is about the same thickness as a typical business card or cereal packet to work well. I use a scalpel to cut around the smaller part of the adapter. Note that you will also need to cut a small slot in the card ring to allow for the locking tab. Also note that when you look at the face of the larger half of the adapter you will see a small lip or ridge that the smaller part sits in. Your spacer needs to fit just inside this lip/ridge.

 

The card spacer in place prior to reassembly. Needs a little tidy up at this stage!

The card spacer in place prior to reassembly. Needs a little tidy up at this stage!

With the spacer in place offer up the two halves of the adapter. Then use a fine scalpel to “drill” out the screw holes in the card, a fine drill bit would also work. Then screw the adapter back together. Don’t forget to put the locking tab back in place before you screw the two halves together.

 

 

 

Gently widen the narrow slit between these parts to make the adapter a tight fit on the lens.

Gently widen the narrow slit between these parts to make the adapter a tight fit on the lens.

Before putting the adapter on the lens use a very fine blade screw driver to gently prise apart the lens locating tabs indicated in the picture. This will ensure the adapter is a nice tight fit on the lens. Finally attach the adapter to the lens and then on to your Canon mount and check that you can still reach infinity focus. It might be right at the end of the lenses focus travel, but hopefully it will line up with the infinity focus mark on the lens. If you can’t reach infinity focus then your shim is too thick. If Infinity focus is short of your focus mark then your shim is not thick enough. It’s worth getting this right, especially on zoom lenses as you’ll get much better focus tracking from infinity to close up. Make up one adapter for each lens and keep the adapters on the lenses. You’ll also need to get some Canon end caps to protect you now Canon mount lenses.

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How To Become A Better Camera Operator.

….Learn to edit and grade properly!

OK, so if you already shoot and edit then you’ll know this already. But I’m surprised at how many shooters there are that have no idea of how to edit or have never studied the editing and post production process. Very often I’ll hear comments form people like “I shoot this way because it the easiest” or “they can sort it out in post” with clearly little understanding of exactly what the implications for the poor post people are.

Modern post production workflows can be very powerful with the ability to perform many corrections and adjustments, but very often these adjustments only work well when the footage was shot specifically for those kinds of adjustments. Just because you can adjust one type of shot in a particular way, it doesn’t mean that you can do that to any type of shot.  You should shoot in a way that is sympathetic to the post production process that has been chosen for the project.

The other thing that learning to edit brings is an understanding of how a program or film flows. It teaches the camera operator the kinds of shots that are needed to support the main part of an interview or drama scene. Those all important cut-aways that help a scene flow properly. It’s not just a case of shooting a bunch of random shots of the location but thinking about how those shots will interact with the main shots when everything is edited together. If your shooting drama then it is a huge help if you can visualise how cuts between different shots of different characters, scenes or locations will work. How framing and things like camera height can be used to change the tension or intimacy in a scene. I think one of the best way to learn these things is by learning how to edit and I don’t mean just pressing the buttons or randomly dropping stuff in a sequence of clips. Learn how to pace a sequence, how to make a scene flow, understanding these things makes you a better shooter.

But don’t stop at the edit. Follow the post production process through to it’s end. Learn how to grade with a proper grading tool, not just colour corrections in the edit suite (although it’s useful to know the limitations of these) but things like power windows and secondaries. You don’t have to become a colourist, but by understanding the principles and limitations you will be able to adapt the way you shoot to fit within those limits. It is  a good idea to find a friendly colourist that will let you sit in on a session and explain to you how and why he/she is doing the things being done. There is always the Lite version of Resolve which you can download and use for free. If you don’t have anything to edit or grade then go out and shoot something. Find a topic and make a short film about it. Try to include people, interviews or drama. Maybe get in touch with a local drama group and offer to shoot a performance.

Whatever you do, get out there and learn to edit, learn to grade and then experiment and practice. Try a workflow where you create the finished look in-camera, then try shooting a similar project very flat or with log/raw and take that through the post production process and compare the end results. I think the best shooters are normally also competent editors. By full understand the post process you will keep the editor and colourist happy. If you make their lives easy the director and producers will see this when they sit in on the edit or grade and you’ll be more likely to get more work from them in the future.

One final thing. Even if you think you know it all, even if you do know it all you should still speak to the post production people before you shoot whenever possible to make sure everyone is clear about how they want you to deliver your rushes.

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Shooting in the dark – which gamma curve should I use?

This question comes up a lot, which gamma curve will give me the best results on a low key (dark) shoot. A common example would be “Should I use Gamma 2 which is brighter or should I use Gamma 5 which is darker but with a bit of gain”? or “Which is better to use in low light, normal gamma or log gamma”?

Log gamma (SLog, LogC etc) is great for capturing scenes with a large dynamic range, but it comes at the price of compressed highlights and overall less data per stop of exposure. Standard gammas have a lower dynamic range, but as a result the amount of data you are recording per stop of exposure is greater. It’s also vital to remember that if you do shoot in the dark with log you still need to expose correctly keeping middle grey and white at the correct levels in order that you keep mid tones and skin tones out of the heavily compressed part of the curve for the best results, so your images may look very dark and very flat. This can make focussing a big challenge (Top Tip – Use a large waveform monitor to check focus, as you go in and out of focus you should see the fine details in the waveform increase in amplitude as you become more focussed).

If you don’t need 13 or 14 stops of range, then use another gamma, don’t use log. Again with any of the extended range gammas like Cinegamma or Hypergamma watch where you place your skin tones, your exposure levels with these types of gamma curve are normally a little lower than with standard gammas (typically -0.5 to -1 stop).

A basic principle to understand with any video camera is that the actual sensitivity of the camera is purely a function of the sensor. Gain or raising the ISO is simply amplifying the signal off the sensor and results in more noise as the noise gets amplified too. Just like a music amplifier where you can make the music louder by turning up the volume (adding gain) you can make your pictures louder (brighter) by adding gain or raising the ISO. Listen to the music amplifier at high volume levels and what do you hear in the background? More hiss and noise, it’s the same with your video camera, more gain = more noise.

Gamma is also a form of gain providing different amounts of gain for different sensor output (brightness) levels to achieve specific recording and camera output levels, but it’s still gain (it can sometime be negative gain). The nearest you have to a gamma control on an audio amplifier would be an equaliser or bass and treble tone controls. Turn up the treble control on an audio amp and again you will here more hiss and noise, it’s nothing more than a selective gain control that shapes the sound you hear. Video camera gamma is very similar, it shapes the tonal range of the images you see.

So – and this is the bottom line: With any given gamma, combined with any given ISO or gain level, to achieve any particular brightness of output, for the same input level the total system gain (gain + gamma) is the same for that particular point in the scenes brightness range. So the noise level for any given brightness of output will be almost exactly the same whether you mix ISO “A” with Gamma “B”  or ISO “B” with Gamma “A” because the combined gain of A + B is the same as B + A.  At the end of the day the real sensitivity is governed by the sensor and anything else that makes the image brighter is gain, either regular “gain” or gamma gain.

So, choose a gamma curve that can deal with the dynamic range that you need and no more, don’t waste recording data on unused dynamic range. That way when you grade or do any post production noise reduction you have more data per stop to work from and that will help with the final image. If you do use log or a high range gamma (Hypergamma, Cinegamma etc) watch your exposure levels, the same rules apply in the dark as in daylight, you don’t want to over expose any skin tones as they won’t grade nicely.

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PMW-F5 WILL get 240fps and Anamorphic De-Squeeze!! New Firmware Timeline.

Great news for PMW-F5 owners. The F5 will get the ability to record 2K raw at 240fps (with the R5). In addition it will also get 1.3x Anamorphic De-Sqeeze. Sony have just released an updated firmware timeline. There are no major changes to the timing of the already announced features, but now we can see that in the July release the cameras will get Reel Number and Camera ID for SxS recordings. In the September release as well as 2K raw, the cameras will get waveform and histogram exposure tools as well as rotary knob audio level setting. Then in the December update we’ll see S&Q motion up to 240fps and monitor LUT’s for both the F5 and F55. Great news and good to see things pretty much on schedule. The new ND filter knob for the F5 and F55 should be out later this month as well.

Now I also notice something else on the chart for the F5 in December— Quad HD XAVC and 50Mb/s simultaneous recording!!! Really, is this correct, will the F5 really get the ability to record 4K XAVC???? I hope so, but somehow I think this is a typo. Lets not get too excited just yet. This is an error in the graphics. The F5 will not get QFHD.

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original-5

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Correct exposure levels with Sony Hypergammas and Cinegammas.

When an engineer designs a gamma curve for a camera he/she will be looking to achieve certain things. With Sony’s Hypergammas and Cinegammas one of the key aims is to capture a greater dynamic range than is possible with normal gamma curves as well as providing a pleasing highlight roll off that looks less electronic and more natural or film like. To achieve these things though, sometimes compromises have to be made. The problem being that our recording “bucket” where we store our picture information is the same size whether we are using a standard gamma or advanced gamma curve. If you want to squeeze more range into that same sized bucket then you need to use some form of compression. Compression almost always requires that you throw away some of your picture information and Hypergamma’s and Cinegamma’a are no different. To get the extra dynamic range, the highlights are compressed.

Compression point with Hypergamma/Cinegamma.

Compression point with Hypergamma/Cinegamma.

To get a greater dynamic range than normally provided by standard gammas the compression has to be more aggressive and start earlier. The earlier (less bright) point at which the highlight compression starts means you really need to watch your exposure. It’s ironic, but although you have a greater dynamic range i.e. the range between the darkest shadows and the brightest highlights that the camera can record is greater, your exposure latitude is actually smaller, getting your exposure just right with hypergamma’s and cinegamma’s is very important, especially with faces and skin tones. If you overexpose a face when using these advanced gammas (and S-log and S-log2 are the same) then you start to place those all important skin tone in the compressed part of the gamma curve. It might not be obvious in your footage, it might look OK. But it won’t look as good as it should and it might be hard to grade. It’s often not until you compare a correctly exposed sot with a slightly over shot that you see how the skin tones are becoming flattened out by the gamma compression.

But what exactly is the correct exposure level? Well I have always exposed Hypergammas and Cinegammas about a half to 1 stop under where I would expose with a conventional gamma curve. So if faces are sitting around 70% with a standard gamma, then with HG/CG I expose that same face at 60%. This has worked well for me although sometimes the footage might need a slight brightness or contrast tweak in post the get the very best results. On the Sony F5 and F55 cameras Sony present some extra information about the gamma curves. Hypergamma 3 is described as HG3 3259G40 and Hypergamma 4 is HG4 4609G33.
What do these numbers mean? lets look at HG3 3259G40
The first 3 numbers 325 is the dynamic range in percent compared to a standard gamma curve, so in this case we have 325% more dynamic range, roughly 2.5 stops more dynamic range. The 4th number which is either a 0 or a 9 is the maximum recording level, 0 being 100% and 9 being 109%. By the way, 109% is fine for digital broadcasting and equates to bit 255 in an 8 bit codec. 100% may be necessary for some analog broadcasters. Finally the last bit, G40 is where middle grey is supposed to sit. With a standard gamma, if you point the camera at a grey card and expose correctly middle grey will be around 45%. So as you can see these Hypergammas are designed to be exposed a little darker. Why? Simple, to keep skin tones away from the compressed part of the curve.

Here are the numbers for the 4 primary Sony Hypergammas:

HG1 3250G36, HG2 4600G30, HG3 3259G40, HG4 4609G33.

Cinegamma 1 is the same as Hypergamma 4 and Cinegamma 2 is the same as Hypergamma 2.

All of the Hypergammas and Cinegammas are designed to exposed a little lower that with a standard gamma.

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Miller Solo Tripod and Compass 15 Head.

A decent tripod is a critical piece of your camera kit. It’s not something you should skimp on as a poor tripod is difficult to work with, will cause frustration and lead to inferior footage. Invest wisely and your tripod should last a decade, far longer than most cameras. I’ve got tripods that are as good today as they were when I purchased them in the 1990′s.

When choosing a tripod the range of models available is confusing and baffling. There are so many different tripod weights, payloads and heights to choose from, so it can be difficult. Also while there is such a thing as a good all round tripod (as we shall se in a bit) there is also no such thing as one tripod that will be perfect for every shoot. The most important thing to consider when choosing a tripod is the payload that it will need to carry. This is the total weight of the camera, lens, batteries as well as any support equipment like rods and rails or monitors attached to the camera. Don’t underestimate how heavy this lot can get. You will want a tripod that can comfortably carry the payload you have, you never want to be right on the upper limit. At the same time you don’t want too big a tripod. The pan and tilt resistance on an excessively big tripod may be too much for a very light camera. Overall I’m a big fan of heavier tripods. The extra mass of a heavy tripod tends to make it more stable, in particular it will help reduce vibration, but this comes at a price, a big tripod is hard to lug around and if you fly a lot will cost a lot in excess baggage fees.

Rainbow under a severe thunderstorm. Miller Tripod.

Rainbow under a severe thunderstorm. Miller Tripod.

I travel a lot, so I was looking for a lightweight tripod that could carry my PMW-F5 kit. The main use for this tripod was for my self funded storm chasing and natural extremes stock footage shoots as well as for the many film making workshops I run all over the world. A tripod I have had my eye on for a while is the Miller Solo - Compass 15 tripod package, so I decided to give one a try.

The Solo is unlike most professional video tripods as the legs are of the single tube, telescoping variety as opposed to the more traditional double tube variety.

Miller Solo tripod standing tall. it's almost 2m to the top of the head.

Miller Solo tripod standing tall. it’s almost 2m to the top of the head.

They are constructed from Carbon Fiber, so they are very light, yet they can extend very heigh (1.87m for the legs alone), which is a great thing to have on news shoots or at an event or conference where you need to get the camera up above the heads of an audience. There is no mid level or floor spreader with this tripod, the spread of the legs is governed by latches at the tops of the legs that have 3 different positions, each one restricting the maximum leg spread by a different amount.  At the same time as being able to go very tall by lifting a latch at the top of each tripod leg the legs extend outwards almost flat to the ground and this allows you to get very low down at a height similar to a Hi-Hat yet the tripod remains very stable and solid.

 

Miller Solo would be a winner in a Limbo dance. Here it is in low mode.

Miller Solo would be a winner in a Limbo dance. Here it is in low mode.

Miller Compass 15 head tilt drag and balance controls. The levelling bubble is illuminated.

Miller Compass 15 head tilt drag and balance controls. The levelling bubble is illuminated.

The Compass 15 head is a middle weight fluid head with a 75mm bowl for levelling. The drag for the pan and tilt is varied using click stop rings, each with 6 settings from zero to 5. The drag range is very good with position 5 giving considerable drag, something useful when you working with a long lens or trying to do very slow pans. For counterbalance there is another click stop ring, this time with 4 different counterbalance settings. The difference between the minimum and maximum counterbalance settings isn’t huge, but adequate provided you camera is within the heads payload range.

My first major project for this tripod was a bit of a baptism by fire. Every year I spend around 6 to 8 weeks shooting severe storms and tornadoes in the USA for stock footage. These shoots are always tough. You have to be extremely mobile. As I’m based in the UK, first of all there is the initial flights across the Atlantic to the USA. Once in the US I will typically drive between 400 to 600 miles a on an active storm day. In a month I’ll clock up around 10,000 miles. I don’t have an assistant on these shoots so have to do all the kit lugging myself. As well as the camera kit there is also 20kg of additional equipment needed to get real time weather data via satellite, two way radios, laptops, hard hats and safety gear. So anything I can do to save weight and bulk else where is welcome and the Solo tripod scores highly for portability.

Me shooting a tornado with the PMW-F5 and AXS-R5 on my Miller Solo tripod.

Me shooting a tornado with the PMW-F5 and AXS-R5 on my Miller Solo tripod.

Filming a tornado is challenging. Very often the only way to get a good view of a tornado is by being in it’s path. Lots of rain and hail falls behind a tornado obscuring it from view and a strong, sometimes deadly wind called the RFD occurs around the back of a tornado, so, you need to be in front of it. A tornado can travel across the ground at speeds of up to 70mph, so if your 2 miles from a fast moving tornado you have only got about 90 seconds to get out of the car, set up your tripod, get a couple of shots, jump back in the car and drive out of it’s way. For this the Miller Solo was fantastic. With no spreader to getting in the way but the leg spread limited by the adjustable stops I found it a very fast tripod to deploy and pack away.

 

Storm Chasing in the USA with the PMW-F5 on the Miller Solo.

Storm Chasing in the USA with the PMW-F5 on the Miller Solo.

At the same time it was also very stable. It is not as stable as a bigger, heavier tripod but still remarkably solid given it’s light weight. I’ve used bigger tripods in the past and it really helps having that extra bulk when shooting in the often strong winds that surround the storms I shoot. But because these took longer to deploy I wasn’t always able to use them, reverting to handheld when time was short. The Solo’s portability meant I was able to use it much often, so although some shots taken in high winds do suffer from a bit of wobble and buffeting, the more frequent tripod use means that I cam away with a lot more steady and stable shots from this assignment than I would have with a heavier conventional tripod. I guess really for me I will have to consider taking two tripods if I can. Something substantial and heavy for use when the wind is really strong and the Solo for everything else.

Storm chasing with a PMW-F5 and Miller Solo.

Storm chasing with a PMW-F5 and Miller Solo.

Talking of everything else” what about shots done when things are not so frantic? Well a big part of the storm shoot is to document the whole life cycle of the storms. This means shooting a lot of panoramas and landscapes, often with very slow pans. One of the things that really took me by surprise with the Compass 15 head was the smoothness of the pan and tilt drag. This really is one of the best tripod heads that I have ever owned. The pan and tilt drag really is silky smooth and there is no perceptible backlash. It really is a delight to use. It’s so good that I think I’m going to have to take a close look at some of Millers larger tripods for when I want a heavy weight option. Smooth, slow pans were easy to achieve, even at longer focal lengths. One small criticism of the tripod kit is that the single tube Solo legs twist a little more than most traditional double tube tripod legs, but then that’s the price you pay for going light weight.

So overall I thing this combination of Compass 15 head with Miller Solo legs is fantastic. I’ve used a lot of tripods over the years, and this one stands out from the crowd. But, as I said at the start there is no such thing as a tripod that works for every application. I would not recommend the Solo legs for long lens work, they just don’t quite have the stability that can be obtained with a larger set of legs. That said, for portability and great performance in most everyday applications the Miller Solo and Compass 15 is a delight and I highly recommend it.

You can see footage from this shoot by clicking here.

For information on the Miller Solo System click here.

Disclosure: I approached Miller and requested the loan of the tripod. Miller provided me with a Miller Solo and Compass 15 head on a loan basis for review and use at my workshops etc. The review is my own opinion and Miller did not have any input into the review content. I really like this tripod!

 

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Convergent Design Odyssey 7Q gets much cheaper to own!!!

Convergent Design Odyssey7 Front.

Convergent Design Odyssey7 Front.

Every time I get to play with a Convergent Design Odyssey I am impressed. It a really nice piece of kit, first off it’s a fantastic OLED monitor with excellent tools such as waveforms and some very sophisticated focus aids. But in addition it’s recording capabilities are second to none. For Sony’s FS700 the Odyssey 7Q is in my opinion a far more elegant and practical solution for 4K and 2K recording than Sony’s IFR5/R5 raw option. In addition I’m excited about being able to record 2K raw at 240fps using the 7Q.

The 7Q has always been competitively priced, but it’s still not what you would regard as a cheap device, at least not compared to the many cheap compressed HD recorders out their now. But don’t forget this is a 4K capable recorder and the monitor is as good as it gets.  You are getting some cutting edge technology and that’s never cheap.  Convergent Design have been listening to FS700 owners and in an attempt to make the 7Q not only the best, but also the cheapest way to get a 4K recorder they have re-assed their pricing. Previously, you had to have multiple options if you had several different Sony cameras and wanted the Odyssey to work with them all, the separate options for the Sony F3 + FS700 were each $1,495 USD.

Now though there is just one single option for Sony cameras that will support both the F3 and FS700, and it will be only $795 (US)

In addition Convergent Design will be reducing the SSD prices while increasing their capacity.

The 240 GB SSD, was $595, will be priced at $395 and will be 256 GB.

The 480 GB SSD, was $1,195, will be priced at $895, and will be 512 GB.

So this means that the Odyssey7Q ($2,295) + Sony Option ($795) + two 256 GB SSD’s ($395 each) + Thunderbolt Reader ($99) will total $3,979 which is an absolute bargain compared to the cost of a Sony IFR5/R5, 1x AXS card and the Sony CR1 reader which comes to around $9k. It’s also a much tidier device to rig.

I also think that for many FS700 users, compressed 4K will be easier to work with than 4K raw.

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DoP, DiT, Instructor for hire!

Just a reminder to everyone that I am a DoP, DiT and Instructor and that I am available for hire! What’s more my rates are very reasonable, I don’t cost the earth and I can bring 20 years of experience to your project, shoot or workshop. I also have a range of cameras, lights and support equipment that I can provide. So next time your crewing up a project, drop me an email using the contact form and I’d be glad to give you a quote.

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